If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Poster

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9/10
Jenkins' Adaptation of James Baldwin is Deeply Powerful
bastille-852-73154714 October 2018
Two years after sending shockwaves through the film world with "Moonlight," which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Barry Jenkins is back with "If Beale Street Could Talk." Needless to say, the film is excellent and is everything one could hope a follow-up to "Moonlight" would be. The film follows a young African-American couple in Harlem before and during when the man is wrongfully accused of sexual assault. While such difficult subject matter could feel slightly tone-deaf to some in the era of #MeToo, viewers should rest assured that Jenkins handles the material with a delicate and incredibly thoughtful sense of sensitivity. Like "Moonlight," the film's aesthetic qualities feel almost lyrical in tone, which is a beautiful sight to behold. The score is also superb as well, managing to be both quietly rousing and emotionally stirring.

Jenkins' technique of characterizing the setting or settings where his films are set is put to great use here. New York City feels almost like a character in this film, as it adds a rich tapestry to the film's narrative. This sense is heightened further when paired with a meticulous sound design, where even simple and day-to-day sounds like a subway car rolling into the station enhance the viewing experience. The acting is strong and quietly powerful from beginning to end, and the amount of thoughtful character development that Jenkins deploys throughout the story's narrative is commendable. The same can be said to the film's frequent use of narration. In many other films, this could have come off as annoying, but the film uses this tactic to great ends here by primarily using it to enhance the audience's emotional connection to the characters. Such a connection further builds up the powerful nature of the film's narrative, which makes a powerful and deeply tragic statement on the nature of racism without ever resorting to feeling heavy-handed by the end. I will note that the film does take some time to get going and has a few minor redundancies in its beginning scenes. But otherwise, this film is superb and on par with "Moonlight" in quality. Baldwin's prose is not just honored in this film, but it is cherished. 9/10
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6/10
I wanted to love it but...
curiouslurker14 December 2018
The acting was great, especially Regina King. She deserves every award she is nominated for in this pic. I heard so much about this film at TIFF and I was so looking forward to seeing it, but I didn't get around to it until December. The direction and pacing were almost too deliberate, to the point of distraction, and at times the camera work left me feeling motion sick. What it comes down to, though, is the ending. It felt unfinished and I walked away from the film feeling like the story hadn't been told. Too bad, really, because it was starting to look like a beautiful, if tragic, film.
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Wow!
elizabeth-logan124 November 2018
This movie was amazing! It was refreshing to see your true love story. I also love the way it told the story of a generation of lost men and shattered families at the hands of institutionalized racism. And how I generation of single mothers came to exist in America. Well written, well acted and beautifully shot.
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9/10
A timely plea with timeless musings along the way
jsph_calabrese13 September 2018
If Beale Street Could Talk is hands down one of the best movies of the year. Barry Jenkins again triumphs in truly showing, not simply telling, that blackness is beautiful and that black lives do matter.

Part of me understands the argument that this would have been best served as a theatrical production, as the dialogue feels as such at times. But then I come back to the fact that Jenkins is such an immersive director: intimate visual style, precise editing that enriches both the themes and intrigue of narrative, and his perfect use of music. The cinematic medium allows for the expressionistic strokes that elevates the story to such a powerful experience.

Final thought: I do not remember life before this Nicholas Britell score. I keep refreshing Spotify hoping for it to drop.
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10/10
DON'T TRUST NEGATIVE REVIEWS
luminouslogan14 December 2018
Racists came out in full force on IMDB and Metacritic to downvote this, best they could bump it down to was a 7/10. It's actually hard to imagine an educated person having any issues with this movie. It's a beautifully shot, well written, technically impressive, emotional and moving story that touches on racism, romance, parenthood, and the human condition. It's true to it's name, its the closest you'll ever get to being spoken to by a place. You don't need to be a liberal to enjoy this, you don't need any political affiliation. Watch this as an individual, you will find enlightenment. Best film of the year.
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9/10
The Movie We Need Right Now
julietkwan13 January 2019
Barry Jenkins crafted a second masterpiece with "If Beale Street Could Talk." His other movie, "Moonlight," which is one of the greatest movies of the 21st century, is another type of movie about black power that we need right now. See, both "Moonlight" and "If Beale Street Could Talk" feature nearly an all-black cast (Moonlight is entirely) and they subtly emphasize and make a statement about appreciation of minorities and people who are not white. Both movies are beautiful, and this one features the theme of always believing in love, while Moonlight is about finding yourself. Both masterpieces, I kinda made this an homage to Barry Jenkins.
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10/10
beautiful love story
deepakkanwar12 January 2019
So beautiful, i am speechless. Slow paced showing every emotion.
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4/10
Snail's paced, non-cinematic disappointment
lance2426 December 2018
Loved Moonlight and was expecting a lot from this film. The basic problem is simple: this should have been a play. It doesn't work as a movie despite strong acting because the plot is thin and Jenkins' decision to slow the pace to a crawl exacerbates the lack of plot. There wasn't an original idea in the movie and the heavy reliance on stereotypes made it preachy. Potential viewers should ask why it took 44 years for this James Baldwin novel to make it to the screen before watching.
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6/10
Maybe I expected too much.
mharah28 November 2018
This film is based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name. I read it at the time and was very moved. It told me so much I didn't know. But that was in 1974, and one has heard the same story over and over since then. Barry Jenkins is telling a period piece, a mood piece. It is brilliantly acted and gorgeously shot. The music is too loud, but maybe that is deliberately appropriate. The narrative moves very slowly, with the deceptive languor of the South. That might work if it were set in the South, but it's not; it's Harlem. It has the feel of 1974, and it certainly could be New York - or Philadelphia or Baltimore - or Chicago or Detroit (which was only beginning to disintegrate then). In short, it doesn't feel tethered. Memphis, it is not. The result is that, unlike Moonlight, which was very involving, this film is rather stereotypical. Again, that was new in 1974. But not now. Today, we see the same stories over and over on TV screens - some of which are sadly still all too true, and others which are probably ginned up and definitely exploitive. I kept looking at my watch and thinking, "will nothing ever happen?", and it didn't. In short, If Beale Street Could Talk does look impressive. (Jenkins' fans are already gushing. And I am one, but I'm not blown away.) Moonlight it is not.
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6/10
Expected so much more !!
bdwy_babe31 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Acting was great but that was about it for me.

Main negative thing was audio .... missed so much as some was low mumbling or the Tish narration which wasn't very clear or loud enough. The others I was with also said they missed a lot as well. Slow moving and a tad boring. Also ... which I am confused about is if victim took off and wasnt at trial or no evidence was taken DNA or examination etc ... how was he sentenced. What was with Regina King's character wanting to wear a wig when in Puerto Rico ? Was this just to add another 5 minutes to movie?
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7/10
Trust Love All the Way
citimets15 December 2018
It's been two years since Barry Jenkins took the film industry by storm with his masterpiece, Moonlight. Jenkins is back at it again with his adaption of the acclaimed novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin. Like Moonlight, Jenkins provides a film with such strong characters, and he is able to make viewers feel so connected to them. The movie is narrated by Tish Rivers, a 19 yr. old girl, who is pregnant with her soon to be husband Fonny Hunt's baby. We find out through the narrations that Fonny was falsely accused of rape, and is in jail when Tish learns she is pregnant. Tish is determined to get Fonny out of jail by the time their baby is born. With the help of her family, specifically her mother, (played by a terrific Regina King) the Rivers are willing to do whatever it takes to prove Fonny innocent. Like Jenkins' previous work, the film deals with such beauty and heartbreak. The movie does move slowly at times, but it's terrific camera work and sensational score by composer Nicholas Britell are certain to keep you engaged all the way. All in all the film has strong performances led by Stephan James, KiKi Layne, and Regina King, with a stellar screenplay by Barry Jenkins. When the credits role you will certainly find yourself trusting love all the way.
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7/10
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
rockman18215 December 2018
I have to say honestly that this was one of my most hyped films of 2018. The trailer for the film had such a beautiful score and wonderful imagery, you just knew that you would be in for something special. Moonlight is a very good film, although I wasn't as crazy about it as most people were. I am pleased with If Beale Street Could Talk, it may not be as high regarded as Moonlight was two years ago but there's no denying that Barry Jenkins has once again brought forth a beauty of a work.

The film is about a young Black woman who finds out she is expecting a child. The main issue is that her lover has been imprisoned for a crime that he most likely did not commit. She (played by a wonderful KiKi Layne) must deal with telling her family and his as well as preparing for motherhood without the touch or presence of her mother. The film also explores the Black community in New York and the troubles faced, which still resonate today. The film also stars Stephan James, Colman Domingo, and a very excellent Regina King.

As with Moonlight, the film has such a wonderful score and absolutely beautiful imagery. The film employs the same personal profile shots of its characters with faces that tell an expressive story. Same with the slow panning between characters and profound dialogue. The film feels like a work of art, and Jenkins and his crew have perfected their storytelling as a form of art. The performances all around are great but I have to single out Regina King for having the best role of her career. She should surely be getting an academy nod for Best Supporting Actress.

I liked this film better than Moonlight and just felt like it met its expectations. It tells a very important story with problems that are still faced today, much like with Moonlight. To me, this just felt like an experience from beginning to end. Barry Jenkins is quickly showing himself off as a storytelling extraordinaire through his very artistic portrayal of his characters, story, and images. Go and see this film.

7.5/10
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2/10
Very disappointing
Spring155 January 2019
First, I need to make it clear that I was no fan of 'Moonlight' but I was very interested in 'If Beale Street...' because of the topic. It was getting many nominations and rave reviews (just like Moonlight). I knew that the movie was about a black man accused of a crime he did not commit and that interested me. Racism is a major social problem, and it has produced some very good movies. So it was not unreasonable to expect a high quality film.

I was very disappointed that what could have been a very good movie that was based on probably a very good book (I have not read the book, but I may in the future) was ruined by a terrible screenplay, and poor editing. It is broken into pieces that don't fit, so there is no flow. It moves slower than snails. First 20-30 minutes were OK, but later it became boring and tiresome to watch due to the slow pace. I was very bored, and rather irritated by the lame attempts to be artistic. Scenes go on forever, as if the editor and the director were both asleep and forgot to cut.

The acting by all actors was good. Regina King is winning nominations and/or awards. I find that surprising. Nothing wrong with her acting, but the role idoes not offer much, except for two emotional scenes near the end, and she does well in them. When compared with her competition for Best Supporting Actress, I don't feel this is a strong enough role when compared with others, that is, not strong enough to win.

Overall, this could have been a very good movie but whatever approach they used for telling the story has not worked for me.
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2/10
1hr of dialogue stretched out over 2hrs that felt like 3hrs
peeedeee-942819 January 2019
I don't know how this movie is rating over 90% on RT. It was dull dull dull. Here's why: The director chose to make his movie as visually stylish as possible, with much of the movie filmed in portrait with bokeh backgrounds, very sluggish delivery of dialogue (the lead lady talked like she just woke from a nap), and overall just lack of substance. The film felt very artificial, it didn't feel real as well. The background music didn't help either, it sounded like it was somewhere between Taxi Driver and Film Noir. Didn't suit it at all. And then there was Tish's narration, it definitely didn't fit at all. It definitely sounded like it was ripped from the pages of the book, and not at all the words of a 19 year old girl. The trailers seem to sell this as a movie about a couple going through difficulty with the fiance being in wrongfully jailed. Well, that part of the movie just doesn't really work, because of the overall lack of focus of the film - is it about the couple, is it about justice, is it about single mothers? The whole setting up of, and keeping Fonny in jail, felt overly contrived, not realistic. The fight at the beginning of the film between the two sets of families is also forced. Let's just have a scene of sass talk, even though it was already hinted to the audience that there was already tension between the families. What did they expect? Sorry, but I think you should skip Beale Street if you're looking for a film with engaging characters, good pacing, and a good story arc. Not this disjointed, snail paced mess.
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7/10
It survived and conquered.
LordofArt22 October 2018
I thought there were some superfluous moments at the beginning...but it scaled through. Thank you Barry Jenkins. Beale Street did talk, yes it did.
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1/10
Dissapointment
caneralper21 December 2018
After Moonlight expected him to move forward. Long shots of unnecessary dialongs, a lot "I love you babe, i love you more" romance, needles flashbacks. The only good thing was Regina King.
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Lead Actress gets a "10" but director did an aweful job.
VoyagerMN198611 January 2019
I am sorry but Barry Jenkins seems to have sleep walked through this mess. it is shocking considering this is the director of the near masterpiece "Moonlight." Not to mention that that Beale street is one of Baldwins better and more original works.

Despite the problems with directing and adaptation though, the lead actress' work is a tour de force. KiKi Layne is extremely talented and more than carries the film.
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9/10
They told us a love story.
Alwnva16 January 2019
What moves a story from being just a story to literature is timelessness of the theme, the prose, the passion and the honesty. James Baldwin wrote a beautiful piece of literature. Barry Jenkins did Mr. Baldwin proud with his adaptation. This was one of the most beautiful movies you will watch this year. I became intimate with the characters. The tightness of each shot married you to each character that was beautifully developed. As with great love stories there is heartbreak and unanswered questions. The thing that makes this a masterpiece piece in my mind is that you are still allowed to use your imagination while all the answers are in the screen. Like spike lee I can see Barry Jenkins signature in the film but it isn't distracting AT ALL.
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10/10
A Very Beautiful Movie
trollerbrendan13 January 2019
Great acting. Great story. Great production. AMAZING MUSIC! Tear jerking performance by Regina King. Very powerful message. Just a beautiful, amazing movie that needs to be seen!
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8/10
Strong 4 // Wonderfully impressionistic drama
ccamp8913 January 2019
Barry Jenkins follows up Moonlight with another impressionistic drama whose focus is firmly on mood over plot. Tish and Alonzo are young African Americans in Harlem, in the 1970s, and in love. This is the story of their love, and the challenges it faces during the era.

In terms of craft, If Beale Street Could Talk is a confident step forward for Jenkins. It's a rapturously beautiful film full of powerful images captured by a disembodied camera that floats, glides, and contemplates. Jenkins creates a potently intimate and romantic atmosphere around his two leads who glow like a flame warding off the darkness of their time. The non-linear structure of the narrative articulates that conflict nicely as it juxtaposes moments of joy and despair from different points along the couple's timeline and makes tangible the unjustness of their situation.

As beautiful as it is, the film can feel a tad indulgent at times. Jenkins is coming off of a Best Picture win for his sophomore film and enjoying the resulting budgetary benefits. It's only natural that he would revel in it a bit and the results are often ravishing, though sometimes at the expense of restraint. Some scenes can drag and come off as a bit too style-focused and self-important. And the central relationship, while undeniably tender and well-acted, edges slightly into over-idealization as we're shown scene after scene of swooning love declarations and longing gazes.

The film ultimately succeeds, though, on the strength of its craft and the resonance of its social commentary. It's a film that cares deeply about its characters and its message which, sadly, remains startlingly relevant.
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8/10
A film of love, connection, and powerful search and truth message for justice.
blanbrn12 January 2019
Director Barry Jenkins has once again made a powerful film that speaks to the nation showing that black lives do matter as with injustice, love and connection is still possible. Based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel the film follows the lives of one young Harlem couple Tish(Kiki Layne) and Fonny(Stephan James) who live and love and become intimate as Tish becomes pregnant both have their world and lives turned upside down with drama as Fonny is charged with rape, and it's only by world of mouth. As clearly during this era blacks were wrongfully charged with many crimes. The film shows moments of emotions and love with passion and high family drama thru flashbacks. Tish's mother Sharon Rivers(in a strong and bold brash supporting turn from the sexy Regina King) keeps the flame and fight for justice going to try and prove Fonny's not guilty thing. Overall well done film of love, family, support, and emotion that deals with race, life, and injustice.
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8/10
Painful - the Test of its Strength
silasmrner12 January 2019
More of these stories need to be told, as they help explain the feelings which impede normalcy in interracial relationships- why whites can't fully grasp the anguished past blacks carry as almost an hereditary memory. But these are sad, painful stories and not run-of-mill Hollywood fodder, so you won't see many of them. See this one.
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10/10
Beale Street can talk and has a lot to say
PotassiumMan26 December 2018
This film adaptation of James Baldwin's novel about a young black couple in New York City in the mid-20th century is a revelation. It brings to life a story of hope and tragedy in an era that feels both distant and yet not all that different from the present day.

Barry Jenkins shows his master craft in depicting two young people who come from starkly different families, one very religious and the other of a more free-wheeling working class mentality, who find love and companionship with one another. Early on, the young woman discovers she is pregnant with the young man's child. Their lives take a dramatic turn when he is accused of rape.

The film veers from one mood to another, from hope to angst to despair and back again. An incredibly potent soundtrack makes quiet, normal conversations seem pulsatingly tense and seething with emotion. Performances here are extraordinary, especially by Kiki Layne and Stephan James as the young couple.

Not many films offer the kind of evocative, old school storytelling that is at work here. Quiet and deliberate but never less than compelling, this film leaves a mark. Grandly recommended.
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1/10
Kinda boring...might as well read the book instead..
justin-fencsak6 January 2019
After seeing all the trailers and tv spots for this movie i gave in and watched the movie with my friend and we agreed that the movie was boring and had no conclusion. It might win for best cinematography and other merits, but won't win best picture at the oscars and golden globes.
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10/10
Speechless
anissash3 January 2019
A stunning film and a must see! With a true mix of emotions, it took until the credits fully rolled before I could take a breathe, and onto the parking lot, before I had a chance to really cry. This is an absolutely gorgeous film that moved far beyond my expectations. A must see, a must know about, and an epic journey into cinematic color, light and beauty. The music is so very well chosen. I was on an emotional ride from the first 5 to the last moments. This film deserves accolades on many fronts. It is a reminder of America's story, one we must look at again and again. As my partner held my hand he said, "This. This is our reality." Thank you for such a beautiful film.
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